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Archive for the ‘Personal Development’ Category

Four years ago I read in the news about this young lad, Alex Ellis-Roswell from Canterbury What an extraordinary venture; a 9,500 mile, 3-year walk around the UK coast, including N.Ireland, from Minnis Bay to Minnis Bay, raising funds for and visiting more than 200 RNLI stations along the way, and raising more than £65,000 for the life-saving charity. Astounding. I had not heard of anyone walking the entire UK coast, and didn’t realise it was even a thing.

At the time I was not long back from walking the Camino Portuguese from Porto to Santiago, 174 miles, and my efforts felt quite piddling in comparison. I was totally awed at his efforts.

I’ve always loved walking, and walked a lot in my early 20s when I lived in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, but from when I had my baby and acquired a car and a husband in 1980, I didn’t do much by way of walking at all. Life went by, I had a car, and although we travelled a lot around South Africa walking was just part of a day or an outing and not the focus of the outing.

In 2001 I had the absolute joy and good fortune to spend 6 months in the Rep. of Ireland with my younger sister and her hubby. While there, my love of walking was rekindled and played a part in my decision to return to the UK full time…which I duly did in April 2002, albeit to Ireland first for 4 months till September. During my time in Ireland; 2001 and 2002, we walked everywhere, weekend jaunts across country, along the east coast in mid-winter (mostly because there wasn’t anything else to do LOL) and wonderful walks in historic Glendalough National Park in County Wicklow, and my midnight returns to home after an evening in Dublin.

When I relocated to the UK in September 2002, before starting work, I did a 6 week housesit; a penthouse in Hampstead Village with a rooftop view of London, lots of walking opportunities with Hampstead Heath nearby and the historic village of Hampstead.

When we, my daughter and I, eventually settled in Richmond in 2010 I started walking the Thames Path in various directions as well as many many walks in the City of London (eventually covering 95% of all the roads, lanes and alleyways) and City of Westminster, with occasional sojourns to other areas. I even started up a business (now defunct): 3 Days in London which involved guided tours (only a few because I really did not enjoy guiding people around the city LOL).

In 2011 I had the bright idea of following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral and in 2014 we moved to Broadstairs, where my coastal path jaunts began. Along the many ‘ways’ during the years from when I first arrived in the UK, the Camino de Santiago seeped into my consciousness from varying angles; my Dad and a couple of siblings cycled the French route (at different times), I met a lady who had walked the French route and loved it (she gave me my 1st scallop shell), I saw the film with Martin Sheen and books on the Camino started to make themselves known. And so my ‘dream’ of walking the Camino germinated. Initially I thought I’d walk it in 2016, having decided on the Portuguese coastal route as my preferred ‘way’, and to that end I started practising by taking lengthy walks along the coast to Margate or Ramsgate and further afield to Sandwich. Finally in 2017 I felt ready and walked the Portuguese Coastal Route to Santiago in September of that year.

Since then I’ve completed a number of long distance walks and my reading matter has turned to books about people who have done amazing walks. Shortly after reading ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn, I was inspired to set myself the challenge of walking the entire English Coast Path; coincidentally whilst I was walking between Sandwich and Walmer one day last year. And so the idea was born, and now that I have a specific target, I’ve started walking sections with purpose (I will write up about those stages in due course).

During the preceding years I’ve been inspired by epic adventures embarked upon by people like Steven Fabes who cycled 6 continents and covered 80,000 km on his bike. And Ben Fogle’s many adventures with ‘New Lives in the Wild’ TV shows, Steve Backsall’s many epic adventures (not that I envy any of his adventures thank you!!), Michael Palin’s many wonderful travels around the world, Michael Portillo’s ‘Great British Railway Journeys’, and Julia Bradbury’s many amazing walking adventures in the UK.

Way back in my South African past, a boyfriend at the time gave me the book ‘Full Tilt: From Dublin to Delhi’ by Dervla Murphy, which I devoured at the time, never imagining that I would one day actually live in Dublin! I loved her story and I think it probably ignited a small flame that was later nourished to become a passion; travel.

During lockdown in 2020, for 7 weeks between March and April, I was lucky enough to be working and living in a tiny village in Somerset; Nether Stowey, where I was able to indulge my walking escapades despite lockdown because there was hardly anyone around and I seldom encountered a soul during my 2 hourly breaks from working.

My daughter introduced me to the ‘addictive’ Conqueror Challenges in April of 2020 and working towards those goals has kept me motivated.

that’s me! The Conqueror – conquering the world, walk by walk LOL

I also started looking to find more people who were walking the UK coast and somewhere along the line, via Facebook I found and started following Chris Walks the UK. At the time he was safely ensconced on a remote and unoccupied Scottish island where he stayed for much of lockdown. Following his journey both then and now, I’m totally inspired by his fortitude and strength. Having started the journey in the midst of depression 5 years ago (apparently Sunday was his 5th anniversary, so I’ve added the link to reflect that), a former Veteran of the Armed Forces, he was then and still is raising funds for SSAFA and has met the 2 loves of his life along the way; 1st Jet, a beautiful greyhound, and then Kate a beautiful young woman who popped over one day to say hello and never left. I love their daily posts and am in so much admiration for how they cope with obstacles.

Slowly, during my travels, I stumbled across other walks; the Two Saints Way, St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way, Great Glen Way, The West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall, and as I came to learn about more and more walks, I started buying the Cicerone Guide Books. Now, with a whole long list of walks I now want to do, I joined the UK Long Distance Hiking page on facebook, to get ideas and advice, occasionally discover new routes to walk (oh my lord! Like I need any more!), and while scrolling through the posts a couple of days ago I stumbled across Tracey Elizabeth Hannam, an amazing woman with an interesting story who is currently walking the UK coast. I saw one of her posts; a poem that she wrote and it resonated so strongly that I asked her if I could share it here…..and she has agreed.

Here is the link to her facebook page and the poem that caught at my soul

.. Thoughts..a poem

What am I thinking is my life shrinking I need to get out,
Where am I going am I happy knowing as I start to shout,
I’m feeling quite trapped being part of the rat race as they call it..
I’m trying to fit in but I can’t begin as I simply deplore it,
As I try to escape, suffocated in this place I know I must go,
To the sand and the sea I feel it beckoning me and now that I know,
I must be out in the wild like a inquisitive child seeing new things each day,,
Sleep on the earth in a tent, many happy days spent loving the way,
How my new life has changed simply been rearranged by thoughts in my head,
Of times I couldn’t breathe, there was a hidden need to be out here instead,
My eyes now open to see this new happy me away from the grind,
Of a regimented past life, sometimes trouble and strife but now cleared from my mind,
Medicine not in a pill but walking up a hill is healing my soul,
Prescribed by Dr. me as I began to see I needed a new goal,
And I’ll never look back to that old beaten track that stopped me from growing,
I’ll look right ahead never to dread this new me I’m knowing,
Leading the way not afraid to say to others too,
Don’t settle for less cause you are the best ..refresh and renew…💜

Copyright: Tracey Hannam .. 31/7/21

Tracey Hannam – Long Distance Hiker, so inspiring

During my research into other long distance UK coastal walkers I came across this fantastic website https://www.britishwalks.org/walks/Named/CoastWalk/Links.php an amazing resource listing the many people who have already walked the coast or are currently walking.

There is something quite extraordinary about a person who decides, for such a variety of reasons, to up sticks and walk for thousands of kms/miles, sometimes for years on end. Carrying the bare minimum, yet loaded with a lot of stuff to carry, they put one foot in front of the other, enduring pain and discomfort, all the weather types you can imagine, blisters, scrapes and falls, a lack of home comforts, facing some of the hardest days anyone could imagine – and yet, they just keep on going, loving that life despite the hardships, and rejoicing in the beauty of new places.

I find it so inspiring and totally awesome.

For me it’s the sheer freedom of the path, of the unknown, of starting at one place and ending at another that leads me on….

English Coast Path

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So although that sounds pretty awful in terms of the length of time, 40 years….I didn’t always have debt.

Going back to the beginning, I got married for the first time at the age of 17. Back in those dark ages in South Africa I was advised to get married ‘In Community of Propery’, which basically meant I was my husband’s ‘property’ (49 years later I still don’t know what the benefits were, if any) – if I wanted to open a bank account or sign any documents, I had to not only have his permission, but I also had to have his signature.

This irked me for many years and when I finally left him and we divorced, I then had the freedom to do whatever I pleased. I didn’t immediately dash out to get a credit card, but I did open my own bank account and manage my own money.

The years went by and I eventually met my 2nd husband, who after we married persuaded me to take out a credit card to pay for baby stuff and fluff….like eating out 3 times a week. He fancied himself a posh totty without the funds to back it up. I was at home with my baby at the time and left him (trusted) to manage our finances.

He serviced the card for a while until one day a knock at the door heralded a representative of said bank who asked to come in, and because I was still really stupid in those days, I said okay. I even made him a cup of tea. 🤪🤪🤪 He asked for my credit card and a scissors, both of which I gave him 🤔🤔🤔 like I said….I was still very stupid (or naive, take your pick,). To my horror, he cut up the credit card and told me that it was Rxxxx in arrears (R =Rands and I can’t remember how much).

I was aghast and frankly shocked. But also very afraid…of my husband who was a fairly volatile person and I was really scared about what he was going to say. He responded exactly as I expected.

Long story short, I didn’t get another credit card, went back to work in due course and ultimately we divorced after a few years.

He wasn’t a reliable man and child maintenance was adhoc and irregular, and eventually came to a stop altogether.

But I worked hard, changed companies from time to time and worked my way up from being a debtor’s clerk to Personnel and Administrative Manager for a Courier company with 5 branches and the Head Office, which is where I was based.

I bought a house (mortgage) and a car (lease agreement) and ultimately moved to the coast (East London) as Branch Manager with the same company, after my Mother died (1984), with my daughter and a few months later my younger sister who was just 13 at the time.

Child maintenance from both my ex-husband and my sister’s father was intermittent and seldom enough to support 2 children in any great way.

But my salary was decent and we lived quite happily for nearly 3 years. I opened a new credit card account with an excellent credit rating, had holidays, went out for meals, bought clothes when needed, paid school fees for both schools, had birthday treats etc and I got promoted to Regional Manager of a new Division in the company and I traded one car in for another.

Without warning, and due to no fault of mine, 6 months later the company decided to close down the new division and I was retrenched (made redundant).

Now I was stuck in a very financially poor area of the country, rent to pay, a lease on a brand new car and 2 children to support with no prospects. A chaotic time followed and a few months later I had the first of 2 nervous breakdowns. I left home. And all my debt and responsibility behind me.

Skip forward a few years. I recovered and got a new job, paid off the debt. My daughter came back to live with me. I got another new job, bought a car and a house and acquired new credit cards.

Life went on. I moved my daughter and I to Cape Town in 1997 and still working for the latest company I again improved my prospects. Over the intervening years, jobs came and went. I bought a new house, kept the car, and although we struggled sometimes, somehow I always managed to pay my debts, even if some months were a really close shave and only my powers of persuasion kept us in our house.

Fast forward to 2001 and a series of events occurred.

The company I had been working for over the previous 18 months was put into liquidation after the owners had a falling out. My daughter reached the age of consent (21 in South Africa), and my sister (the one who came to live with me after my Mother’s death), was now living in Ireland with her husband, about to turn 30 and wanted someone from the family to celebrate her milestone birthday with her. Since I had no real responsibilities, I decided to go.

Worked for the liquidators till end of contract. Left my daughter looking after the house (still had a mortgage) and sold her the car (paid off by now). Cleared my credit cards and flew to Ireland.

I loved it so much in Ireland, the freedom!!!! So at the end of my visa, I flew back to SA, sold the house, paid off the mortgage and credit cards put my belongings into storage and flew back to the UK to start a new life with my ancestral visa. No credit cards. My daughter joined me in the UK 1 year later, but managed her own affairs.

I got a job, worked hard, and after a couple of years…acquired a new credit card and life went on. I went on holidays, bought whatever I needed and serviced my debts, building up a good credit rating.

Skip forward to 2005 and a chance meeting got me involved in Multi Level Marketing. All good so far. The training recommended telling family and friends about the company and ‘ideally’ signing them up to also become distributors. I flew to South Africa full of excitement and enthusiasm about the new opportunity, but had buckets of cold water (metaphorically) dumped on my head by various members of the family. And acquired a lot of debt.

I flew back to the UK totally dejected, but struggled on trying to make a go of the ‘business’. A couple of years later my daughter saw an advert for something called ‘Millionaire Training’. In those days I still had hopes of being ‘successful’ of earning enough money to become financially independent. So I went to the training and ended up joining another Multi Level Marketing programme. Both the first and now this were excellent products and I still use the one regularly, just not as a distributor.

After a few months of minimal success it was suggested that I attend a Tony Robbins event called UPW (Unleash the Power Within) and therein lay the seeds of my downfall.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of the 4 days…it was insane. I got to walk on fire, danced and sang, went through mind-blowing processes, and had my head turned inside out by manipulation…I mean NLP.

Despite my determination to not sign up to the ‘University’ course, by the end of day 4 I found myself handing over my credit card details to the tune of $10,000.00 One word. Four letters.

And that is when money started to flow (as he promised) just not towards me, but away from.

I spent a fortune flying around the world to the different courses. Health Mastery at St Andrew’s, Scotland. Wealth Mastery in London and finally Phoenix Arizona, USA for the coupe de grace….Date With Destiny. hmmm….

At his Wealth Mastery course we learned how to use OPM. Other People’s Money. Ergo the banks. So I did.

As each card got maxed out, so I applied to another company for a new one. My credit rating was still good, and because the whole shebang happened in less than 6 months, it took a while for the banks to catch up with my spending. Despite having gone through his whole programme, I still felt like I was missing something. I still could not sell a tube of toothpaste LOL never mind make a living from the products.

And so I went to this course and that course; Christopher Howard, Roger Hamilton (about whom I shall say as little as possible so I don’t get sued for libel), Dr John Demartini (the only course that actually had any benefits), Success University and many many others…paid for this course, paid for that course, and the next and the next and the next….one after the other, and so my debt mounted. I was still working, but I had taken out loans from one bank, applied for credit cards from another 3 and suddenly I was in debt to the tune of £35k!! And I came down to earth with a bump! 6 months. That’s all it took. From June 2007 till January 2008. And now I was in serious trouble.

In my desperation to ‘find the right’ product, I joined 8 different Multi Level Marketing companies; all with different products, none of which I could actually ‘sell’. One theme that ran through all of them was ‘fake it till you make it’. In other words lie. So I tried. To fake it. But I couldn’t. It didn’t sit right with me and I struggled…still throwing my income at books and online courses (all free course now, I’d run out of money), and listened to The Secret nearly 100 times until I felt I would go mad.

Finally in 2011 whilst struggling to pay my debts that simply grew and grew due to the interest being charged on my credit cards, I gave up all pretence at trying to ‘build a business’ put my head down and took on as much work as I could.

Around me, most of the ‘friends’ I had made at all the courses, were in debt, a couple of whom were in much deeper than myself, and some of them declared bankruptcy. I put the word ‘friends’ into commas because ultimately the friendships wore down and ended over the next few of years.

Meanwhile I had reached a dead end. I could no longer cope with my debt which had now reached the not so very comfortable amount of £50k…..the interest piled upon interest, upon the original debt and I was drowning. So I took financial advice. I approached a Debt Advisor who suggested that firstly I apply to get a refund on all the PPI I had paid the banks….largely successful it reduced some of the debt. One of the companies put me through hoops before finally conceding that they did indeed have to refund me.

I was informed that I could either declare bankruptcy, and various other options that I never took, or I could set up a payment plan through a debt advisory company. I chose the latter. I could not in all honestly walk away from my debt. And so, for the last 10 years, I have diligently paid off my debt in monthly increments, increasing the amount each year and paying more as I earned more.

I still had my holidays, but if I wanted to plan a trip, I took on more work and paid for them upfront. I budgeted my income very carefully; I definitely didn’t attend any further courses (?), I seldom went out for dinner or to the cinema and fortunately I loathe shopping for clothes anyway, so managed to save a little on the side each month by being exceptionally careful with my money. And my trips were always on the ‘cheap’…cheapest travel, cheapest accommodation (sometimes in really shitty places), hardly ate anything while there and didn’t spend money on keepsakes or trinkets. My only luxury has been books. I saved all the money I earned from night calls, or working over bank holidays, and some years I worked over Christmas and New Year….double pay = more money to save. My biggest luxury this last year has been my virtual challenges, but they have also been a way to keep my sanity by pushing me to get out and walk.

When I stopped taking on long-term assignments I lived in shared accommodation, and for 18 months I had no dedicated home at all….but stayed in B&B’s between bookings. And slowly but surely I whittled my debt down over the years. A few years ago I offered decent settlement amounts to a couple of the banks, which were accepted, and subsequently increased the payment amounts to the others. By the beginning of 2021 I had finally reduced my debt to below £5k and today, I made the full and final payment on the very last amount still outstanding. £521.88 to be precise.

As of today, I am finally debt free. I don’t owe anyone a single penny. It is a huge weight off my shoulders.

I know this post has been different to my usual posts, but I felt it was necessary to say…for me. I feel an overwhelming sense of achievement at having finally settled my debts after 10 years, and really really proud that I didn’t take the easy way out and declare bankruptcy back in 2011.

I guess my experience could act as a cautionary tale too. Don’t live on credit. Especially don’t pay for personal development courses with a credit card, and don’t ever subscribe to the fallacy of OPM. It may well be ‘other people’s money’ to begin with, but ultimately, you will have to pay it back. I believed everything they said in those courses, and whilst I may have learned a lot, none of it paid the bills.

I have managed to live without a credit card for the last 10 years…and I will continue to live my life without a credit card. It can be done.

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Albeit dated from a few years ago, I recently read this article that offers advice from the elderly…

Advice from some old people

They offer some really great, albeit simple advice: I particularly like these 3.

#5. People always say, ’’Make sure you get a job doing what you love!’’ But that isn’t the best advice. The right job is the job you love some days, can tolerate most days, and still pays the bills. Almost nobody has a job they love every day. – my comment on this is such; doing a job you love is one of the hooks developed by the personal development arena to sell their products. Because people hear this and believe it, they become dissatisfied with what they are doing and buy in to the message given out by people like Tony Robbins, Christopher Howard, Roger Hamilton and many many others. They then go on to buy the products that these people and others like them are selling, believing that their lives will change for the better if they find ‘a job they love’. In some instances this can be true, but even with a job you love, there are downsides and off days.
#14. Don’t take anyone else’s advice as gospel. You can ask for advice from someone you respect, then take your situation into consideration and make your own decision. Essentially, take your own advice is my advice… – I can add to this…..and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is…trust your gut instincts. My daughter has a very heightened sense of instinct. The only time she makes a mistake is when she has ignored her own beliefs and instincts and goes on the advice of other people. We are all different, we have different experiences and when we give advice it’s based on our model of the world, our values and beliefs. Advice, no matter how well meaning, is not the be all and end all. Seek advice by all means, but think about how that advice will work for you. Sort through it all and take from it what feels right or suitable for your situation. My daughter often asks me for advice (I treasure that she does) and I am very careful about what I say in reply because my experiences of the world have been and are different to hers. My Mother always said “think about what it is you need advice on before you go to sleep at night. In the morning, what is right for you will be what you first think about” whenever I’ve ignored my instincts is when I’ve gotten into trouble…
#18. Pay your bills and stay the hell out of debt. If I could have paid myself all the money I’ve paid out in interest over the years, I’d be retired already. – of all the points on the list, this is the one that resonates with me the most. And again I can add this: don’t fall for the lie the Personal Development community sells you on…e.g. ‘OPM’…Other People’s Money….e.g. use other people’s money; like bank loans or credit cards – they do this to ensure that you buy their product believing that you’ll succeed after using/doing what they say, that after doing their course/their way you would be able to pay it back because you’ve done their course. Don’t believe it, it’s a lie. If you need to borrow money from a bank or use a credit card to pay for a personal development course, then don’t buy it. The temptation to spend the money believing what they say is too great.

A few life lessons from someone who has been there and done that and burned her fingers….

Fortunately I have actually learned something in the process, albeit later rather than sooner. 🤪🤪👵🏻

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4 years ago, after the orange swamp thing was voted in (I mean seriously wtaf???) and entered The White House, I decided that unless it was the title of something like The Great Wall of China for example, I was not going to use the word ‘great’ to describe anything.

That awful aberration of a human used it for everything, and he revolted me, so I determined to avoid it.

I’ve been about 95% successful… occasionally the dreaded word has slipped out…much to my son-in-law’s amusement and he doesn’t let me hear the end of it 🤔🤔🤣🤣

Besides that, just about every TV presenter or chat show host, or quiz show host and the general public use the word ‘great’ to describe just about everything. Just watch the Breakfast Show in the morning on BBC1….the word ‘great’ is over used by all the hosts.

Enjoyable, amusing, amazing, fantastic, impressive, superb, stunning, admirable, lovely, splendid, tremendous, pleasant, thrilling, exciting, wonderful, exceptional, remarkable etc etc

We have literally hundreds of descriptive words in the English language, that with a bit of imagination and ingenuity, the word ‘great’ could be avoided.

I saw this gif the other day…thought I’d add it to the post 😁😁

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A friend of mine of Facebook set up a writing challenge for September 2020….the idea being to write at least 500 words a day, every day, for September 2020. As she said in her post, 2020 has been one hell of a year and it’s worth recording our thoughts and feelings…or actually anything at all you fancy.

In response to her post I said “I’m in”….and so here I am….my first post for September 2020.

I don’t usually like making these types of commitments because I like to just go with the flow, but since today I finally sucked in my breath and made a commitment to continue and finish (that’s the plan) my pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury, I figured I had better just get on with it and be disciplined!! Actually earlier this year, on my 65th birthday I decided that I should start keeping a diary. I have never been a diary person and the diary I started for my daughter began and ended with the words “my darling Samantha” LOL that was over 40 years ago, Shame on me.

I’m not sure why, but I find it sooooo very difficult to just sit down before bedtime and write a few words…..and so much has happened since then that I’ve mostly forgotten about, so I am somewhat disappointed with myself. But because I post to instagram just about every day, I keep thinking to myself…..”Oh, I’ll just check instagram and see what I said on this that r the other day” urgh.

Okay, so I just checked and I’ve only reached 250 words…..waffling on hahahha. Okay so 500 words is actually quite a lot, but hey…guess what, I started planning the 2nd half of the Pilgrim’s Way yesterday and today I booked the first 2 nights accommodation. It’s quite exciting and just a lot terrifying because I had to cut the journey short in 2018 after having 2 rather unpleasant falls. One was DOWN St Martha’s Hill near Guildford and the other was UP Box Hill on the way to Merstham. In both instances I hurt myself rather badly and by the day after I rather limped my way into Oxted and after waking the next day I decided to postpone (not quit) the final stages till I got my back and my leg sorted. That was in August 2018.

Of course since then my ever so beloved daughter has given birth to my absolutely delightful and much cherished grandson, and frankly, any thought of being away from him went out with the bath water!! I couldn’t tear myself away from this gorgeous baby boy, who is now nearly 20 months and an absolute charm….but much as it behoves me to be away from him during my work breaks, and much as I really just want to spend as much time with him as possible, I also need to get this walk done…..or it will be one of those things that I never complete…and my history is already littered with quite a few of those.

So here I am….and I have just reached 500 words. Hoorah!! So in conclusion, I shall bid you goodnight and see you tomorrow night with the next post…..keep me in check with this okay. I need y’all to stand behind me and give me a nudge if I don’t post something. Hope it’s not too boring LOL

Oh and p.s. why not join in….. 😉

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My daughter and I attended a 2 day Investment Trading Course in London this weekend.

It wasn’t, thank goodness, one of those rah rah happy clappy ‘guru’ type courses where they spend the weekend showing you snippets of how they made their millions and all the consumeristic tat they’ve bought with said millions, and then at the end of it all they tell you that in order to learn more, you need to buy their next course….a bit like the courses I attended ; Tony Robbins, Roger Hamilton, Christopher Howard and their ilk. All very deceitful. I won’t go into the details here, except to say that they always have a caveat that let’s them off the hook.

Or like the Jill Fielding course we did…provided just enough of the strategy and steps required to get you excited, then ended off with…if you want to learn more, sign up for my next course. They also don’t tell you beforehand that you need a lump sum to get started. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have signed up for a very expensive course. It irks me a great deal that these ‘professionals’ never give you the full picture, but get you excited about the possibility, then sign you up, and you only find out the reality once you’ve signed up.

No, this was a down-to-earth practical course showing you the actual steps and strategies used in her investing portfolio.

Our heads were not filled with ‘oh look how wonderful I am with my millions’, but rather we were shown a realistic presentation of this is what I’ve done over the last 10/15 years to gain financial freedom. There are no millions involved, no fancy lifestyle of big cars, mansions, motorbikes bigger than a small car, jet-set trips blah blah blah.

No, what I really appreciated about this course is that it was kept simple and straightforward with practical ‘this is what you do’ steps to investing over the long term.

Yes, you do need a decent lump sum to get started in order to gain that financial goal over 10 or even 15 years, but you can equally start with £100. You’re not going to be a millionaire overnight or even in 10 years time (if that’s what you’re looking for then buy a lottery ticket).

It’s even better than that….it’s an easy way to get started on investing money following a system that over the long term uses a simple strategy and takes advantage of compound interest, along with two other strategies that she shows you.

My daughter and I learned so much this weekend, and not just about investing, but also about the mindset you need in order to be able to invest regularly and sensibly. There’s no high-risk fast-gain strategy. But there is a simple honest way to invest and gain financial independence.

We were talking about the strategies on the train afterwards, and as my daughter said, if they taught this in schools, they could eradicate poverty within a generation. We are taught all sorts of shit in school that we never need again and nothing at all about financial planning. Rather the expectation is to leave school and either get a low-paying job or go onto benefits, or nothing at all in some cases. Of course this doesn’t apply to everyone, but the majority of people do fall into the cycle of financial poverty. And while it’s good to have a job, people are mostly not taught how to budget and how to invest, and so they fall into a cycle of never-ending debt.

It doesn’t need a huge investment to get started and if kids are taught how to budget and how to invest a small amount every month, by the time they’re adults, they could have a decent nest-egg to get started in life.

After a yummy meal, but tired we got home, relaxing on the couch and chatting, we happened to start watching a programme on minimalism which opened up a whole new train of thought.

We are influenced on a minute by minute basis, especially since the advent of TV advertising, and now social media platform advertising, that we are only happy when we spend spend spend : fancy cars, big houses, the latest technology, flat screen 55 inch tvs, holidays here there and everywhere, the ‘latest’ fashion, jewellery and high-end watches with lots of friends milling about the swimming pool in our garden sipping cocktails or beer and smoking… The height of fashion. This the advertisers say, will make you happy.

But it doesn’t. Besides that, it comes at a massive cost; to your family, your health, the health of developing nations and to the planet. Think plastic. One of the things they mentioned in the programme was how in the past, you had 4 seasons of fashion, but now they have 52 weeks of changing fashions. Consumers are constantly bombarded with messages that unless you buy the ‘latest’ this that or the other, you’ll be out of fashion and unhappy and a failure for not keeping up with the Joneses. Think Apple. What they don’t tell you is the massive, negative impact of buying all this stuff is having on the planet. It’s cheap designed to break down quickly and forces you to buy another. Of course I realise the latest Apple phones are not cheap, but they don’t last and every year they persuade millions of people to buy the latest model. They get nauseatingly wealthy and you don’t.

And are you happy?

So, after much discussion we’re now looking at serious minimisation. I’ve been downsizing anyway coz I’m tired of all my possessions that don’t serve me or bring me joy, but instead weigh me down with having to store them and restrict my freedom. But now, I’m going to be brutal. That jacket I love but never wear….out. The dozens of cds I never have time to listen to….out.

I have boxes and boxes of stuff I’ve accumulated over the years that I never look at or need…. Out!!!

I’m going to become even more of what I’ve been for the last few years….every companies worst nightmare : a non-consumer. I experienced so much freedom on the Camino I walked last year with everything I needed in a backpack. It had a massive impact on my life.

Getting back to the Investing Course, as I mentioned earlier, it’s not one of those £5,0000.00 courses where the presenter promises you that you’ll be a millionaire in no time at all (it never happens), and it’s not a ‘fake it till you make it’ type of course (think of any big name in the Personal Development arena), but it is a simple, straightforward, no bullshit, this is what you can do to invest your money and using a simple strategy gain financial security for the long-term.

If like me, you’re already ‘over the hill and still travelling’ then unless you have a large lump sum to invest, you’re not going to be wealthy overnight, but you can secure a decent amount of money to provide a boost to your pension. It is a long-term strategy…..Minimum 10 years, but at the end of it, if you stick with the strategy you should see a decent financial gain.

If you’re still young, 40 and less, then you can, with due diligence and discipline, be able to secure a decent amount of money for a more secure lifestyle.

Let’s face it, unless you earn megabucks (which the vast majority only dream about but never attain) then your pension is going to be shit. Mine will be £65 per week. Rah rah.

So consider your future and think about investing and give yourself a better chance of a decent financial lifestyle.

For me, financial freedom would mean being able to buy my motor home and having sufficient funds to travel and not work. It would be about having just enough money to sustain me while I walk along all the routes I want to do, take decent photos and have the time to blog about my adventures.

I don’t need a big house, fancy car, latest fashion or any of the latest fads. I just want to walk and live a simple lifestyle.

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Whewww. 1 week till I arrive in Porto at the beginning of my Camino 2017 : 7 days : 168 hours : 10,080 minutes 😂😂😂 and just 10 days till I start walking the Portuguese Coastal Route from Porto to Santiago de Compostela. In fact by this time next week I will have landed in Porto…all being well.

inspirational quotes

Sometimes we have to stop being scared and just go for it. either is will work or it won’t. that’s life!

I can’t express just how excited and trepidatious I am feeling. My mind is swirling with thoughts like; have I got this, do I have that, what if I lose my meds, should I carry this or that or the next thing, will I have enough money? Will my shoes be suitable? Have I enough clothes? Do I have the right clothes? Do I have enough time? Can I find my way?

Blah blah blah and horrors…. what if I find I can’t walk 25kms+ for 11 days in a row!!! With a 7.5kg backpack on my shoulders. 😦 😦 😦 I’m under no illusions as to how heavy it can get after walking for 6-8 hours per day….even though I only walked for 3 days each journey last month. Southwark to Canterbury ‘in the footsteps of Chaucer‘ and Ramsgate to Canterbury ‘The Way of St Augustine‘.

So yes, all the fears, all the uncertainties and all the excitement of the experiences I’ll have, the issues I’ll face, the challenges ahead, the places and wondrous things I’m going to see are whirling like dervishes about inside; my mind is in turmoil as the date for lift off approaches and all I want to do is go home right now and I bloody can’t because I’m working 😢😢😢 I’m not sure if I should cry, scream or laugh… I’m trying to focus on the latter.

So OMG 7 days. This all seemed like such a brilliant idea 18 months ago. 7 years ago it seemed like even a better idea!!!! LOL urgh. I love travelling. I love going to new places. I love exploring. So why am I so conflicted about this trip? I’ve trained and trained and trained some more. The #walk1000miles challenge has been brilliant for encouragement!

walk 500 miles

Becoming a Proclaimer 🙂 – heading now towards 1000 miles

I’ve done dozens of practice walks, climbed hills and down dales, through fields and along rivers. I’ve practised with the poles…still can’t quite love them, but they are useful. Got proper shoes and breaking them in. Tested 4 different types of socks (found the best ones) and learned that it’s never a good idea to walk in wet socks 😕😕

packing for the camino de santiago

By the time I get back from my Camino, I will have walked 1000 miles..however these are not the socks I’ll be wearing. But those are the poles I’ll be taking.

I’ve experimented with the backpack… Which I think is really the crux of the matter. It’s bloody murder carrying that thing. Sigh. Oh well.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

my nordic walking poles and osprey backpack looking fairly benign….

I’ve researched and read dozens of sites and packing lists…what should I take? What will I need? Is this useful? Do I have the right shoes? Will I need a rain-jacket? I have to keep reminding myself I’m going to Portugal and Spain, not outer Mongolia!! I’ve already ditched 1.5kgs of stuff…..I guess my intentions to minimalize my life before I buy my motorhome are being put to the test. This is a good start.4 camino packingBesides all that, after my phone crashed in July, I’m a little fearful for it happening again, so I bought a 2nd phone as back-up (like I need the extra expense) and for the last few days I’ve been transposing all the VIP information from the Camino spreadsheet to my phone calendars and into a small notebook that I’m carrying in case my phone gets lost or I can’t get wi-fi – I’m an old fashioned gal, I still like paper and pen 😉

I took this image in March while on holiday in Torquay with my beloved daughter and it seems perfectly apt right now; I’m a ‘wreck’ 😂😂😂

camino de santiago porto to santiago

7 days to the start of my Camino 2017 – Porto to Santiago

I read a lovely quote in the notebook “The beginning is always today!” Mary Shelley. I guess that yes, today is certainly that; the beginning; of my countdown to Porto…this shit is getting serious now. I can’t understand why I’m so conflicted though. I think the seeds of my fear were sown back in 2016 when I stumbled upon a blog written as a memorial to all the people who have died on the Camino routes in the last 10 years or so. Prior to that, it had never entered my head that people actually died!!! while on Camino. I was horrified. I think that knowledge may have played a part in my cancelling the trip I was going to make in September last year. Since then my daughter has become engaged and due to be married in May 2018. ❤

Although I try to not think of it, I am fearful that I too may die while on Camino. It’s not like I’m ill or anything, but some folks were healthy enough when they started and had a heart-attack enroute, some were knocked over by traffic and one lady Denise Theim was murdered. Now as I say, although I’m not focusing on death, the niggling is there in my mind. I would hate to let my daughter down…I’m meant to be walking her down the aisle when she gets married and it would be heart-breaking if I wasn’t there for her special special day. I’ve asked her to promise me that she’ll ask her father to walk her down the aisle in the event I’m not there…but meanwhile I’m visualising me escorting her….actually I can’t wait for the day, she looks absolutely gorgeous in her dress 🙂

So back to the Camino. One thing that has been really good is reading other people’s blogs and facebook updates on the various pages I’m following. It’s good to know I’m not alone in my fears. So many women and men have posted at how fearful they feel in the days preceding their start, how nervous…many with exactly the same fears I have.

camino de santiago porto to santiago

Inspirational quotes

A couple of days ago I got a sudden burst of excitement and wanted to just go already…now! I posted this on instagram: “14 days to go and I’ll be on my Camino. I had a few options for this number but I quite liked the story in this. The unicorn reflects my dream to walk the Camino, now just about to come true, and the words ‘seeds’ reflects that I’ll be sowing new seeds (experiences) in the garden of my life.

my camino 2017 porto to santiago

sowing the seeds of my adventures

I wonder what will grow from this journey? New friends? New feelings? New emotions? New thoughts? New perceptions? I suspect it will be all the above. I do know for sure that new adventures await, new photos (of course), new places to be seen and new challenges await… My feet hurt just thinking about that! 😂😂😂 I hope you don’t mind that I’ll be posting my #countdown from now till I go. I’ve suddenly gone from trepidation to excitement and now I just want to GO ALREADY. In fact it brings tears to my eyes… OMG what an adventure. Although I’m sure that within 3 days I’ll be saying OMG I must be mad!!! What am I doing!!????”

portuguese coastal route mapacoastal

The Portuguese Coastal and Central routes

And yes, just 4 days later, that euphoric emotion has passed and I’m back to wavering between fear and excitement.

I love travelling. I’ve travelled all over the world entirely on my own. I have stumbled through the language barriers. I have enjoyed meeting people. I have loved being solo…..but for some reason, this trip feels different. I guess it’s probably because I’ll be moving constantly for 11 days; walking between 18.5 – 32 kms at different stages staying at a different hotel/hostel/alburgue each night bar 3. 184.2 kms is an awful lot more than 66.91 over 5 days and 109.01 split over 3 days – 2 weeks apart!!

I’ve planned and replanned my route, changed the distances between stages, reduced some days and increased others. Cut out two days of travelling and reduced the distance from 235kms to 184kms.

Somehow this looks awfully far…..

 

 

 

I’ve wanted to visit Portugal for ever such a long time and Porto has been my top destination. In Spain it’s Barcelona which I’ll be travelling to after my journey to Santiago. I’m so excited to be seeing those places….and yet the 11 days between Porto and Santiago are looming large in my head. I’ll also be adding to Project 101; 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Porto Historic Centre, Coimbra and Santiago. I’ll be visiting a number of cathedrals….I’ll count them once I’ve been, a few walled cities, and crossing a few rivers, and ancient bridges. And besides that…..I’ve no doubt that I’ll be visiting a LOT of churches 🙂

All that remains now are for the days to march on by and soon I shall be on ‘my way’. Porto to Santiago de Compostela along the Portuguese Coastal Route….

camino 2017

Camino de Santiago

Buen Camino….

Porto to Santiago de Compostela - my pilgrim's passport and the scallop shells

Porto to Santiago de Compostela – my pilgrim’s passport and the scallop shells

Other blogs I’ve written about the impending Camino

Camino 2016, my way

My Camino the journey so far

My Camino 2017

On the road and what to pack #Camino2017

Pilgrimage – the road to Santiago

The Spirit of the Camino

Walking the Camino and lessons learned

Harrassment on the Camino

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So a few months ago, after a random meeting with a walker on the Isle of Wight in January who was using what turned out to be Nordic Walking Poles, and after reading various articles about the merits of having walking poles for a long journey as well as the various yays and nays of the merits and benefits and nuisance value of carrying walking poles about for anything up to 790 miles (thankfully I’m only walking 165 miles), on the various Camino forums, I finally decided I best get myself a pair…which I duly did in April.

nordic walking poles

propping up the corner in my bedroom….

Since then they have not only decorated my bedroom but have been carted around the UK from job to job, between Oxted and Ireland, Broadstairs and Ironbridge while I procrastinate (what’s new?) about getting them set up and actually putting them to use and learning ‘how to’.

 

Well I FINALLY set them up yesterday and used them for the first time!

 

 

 

 

Hoorah!!! So the prognosis is this…..I dislike them intensely, but they work. So I guess I’ll have to suck it up and use them LOL.

Initially I just strapped them to my wrist, unextended, the idea being to get used to having them in my hand. Horrible. They made my hands all sweaty and the wrist band around my wrist felt horrendous. Under normal circumstance I can’t bear ANYTHING around my wrists….which is why I don’t wear a watch or bracelets or anything such like…I don’t even wear shirts with button down sleeves…it’s that bad. Grim.

nordic walking poles

perhaps I should have left them on this bench LOL

But I persevered. When I arrived at Titsey Hill on impulse I decided I would just get them set up and at least try them out on the first stretch of the very demanding slope. A slope that usually has me stopping halfway; breathless and heart pounding. But……to my surprise I breezed up the slope barely even hesitating. Now unless I suddenly got super fit overnight, it can only be the benefit of the poles. They sure made a difference.

nordic walking poles

taking a rest on Titsey Hill

I then set off jauntily along the path, between the trees with the poles flying akimbo…. especially the left-hand pole that seems to go off piste all on it’s own from time time. Mmmm not sure about that, but I think with practice I may actually get used to using them.

Then it came time to go downhill…..and once again the poles came to the party and I whizzed down with my knees hardly noticing the difference. The end result is that….I still dislike them…intensely, they interfere with my photo taking, and getting my water bottle out the pouch and open is a challenge, but my joints took way less impact than usual and I felt more confident going downhill with my backpack on.

 

So today I decided to go without them and see if I could identify if there was any difference! Was there ever!!! Firstly I felt so free not having them strapped around my wrists and the annoyance of the left-hand pole just doing it’s own thing was a thing of yesterday….but and this is a huge BUT….boy did I ever notice the difference going up that slope again. Yesterday I nearly breezed up (not quite, but nearly) and found the going so much easier…but today it was back to heart pounding, breathless and stopping halfway to recover. Going downhill I very much noticed the difference with my left knee in particular tweaking and twinging in protest. Hmmm…..

nordic walking poles

going downhill on Titsey Hill…

So I’m guessing that despite my dislike for them the poles must go….with me on the Camino!!!

As for the backpack…wow, is this thing ever so heavy!!! I’m not sure how it is that 6.35 kgs can weigh 635kgs by the end of 2 hours, but it does. I’m really glad I decided to pack it and start practising now because I can see this is going to take some getting used to.

nordic walking poles and osprey backpack

my nordic walking poles and osprey backpack looking fairly benign….

One of the articles I read that I found to be of interest was on this website http://caminoways.com/walking-poles

With my walk from Southwark to Canterbury coming up soon I will have to make a decision on whether or not to take them….at least they fold up nicely into my backpack, so if I do take them and they annoy me I can just fold them up shove them back in.

Time will tell.

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It’s normal at this time of the year to think about and consider what, if any, resolutions you may want to make. Hundreds of articles are written each year on the ‘how to’, ‘ the why’, ‘the when’ etc etc, only for many of them to fall by the wayside when real life takes over.

Personally I stopped making resolutions decades ago (urgh, that word ‘decades’ ages me LOL). I seldom kept to them. I am a procrastinator, something I’ve recently named and shamed, and my philosophy in life has always been ‘if it can be done tomorrow….’ And so my resolutions usually fell by the wayside. I’m also fairly lazy…especially if my resolution doesn’t match my values. Ergo…..the “I want to lose weight” resolution simply doesn’t work well if you love food! And chocolate. And cake. And ice-cream. And Vogels bread with latherings of butter and Robertson’s Lime jelly…….and so on and so on; you get my drift. So I’ve pretty much given up on making any resolutions that have anything to do with dieting – besides being unhealthy for my psyche, as soon as I decide to cut something out…I start to crave it.

So no, resolutions don’t work for me. Goals….hmmm, there are so many goals I would like to set and I went through a stage of trying to learn how to set goals but I find it incredibly difficult to make a goal only for my circumstances to change and the goal disappears (my personal development journey that didn’t work too well for me…) and so we get down to plans and intentions.

Plans I can do!! I love lists. I love spreadsheets. So plans I can do. I find it a thrill to make plans to do something. It’s like Dr John Demartini says “find someone’s highest values and they will be more likely to succeed”.

quote# “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.’’  Ralph Waldo Emerson – Poet and Essayist

So what are my plans and intentions for 2017?

  1. To walk more – dead easy…I love walking. I would walk for miles every day if I could.
  2. To travel more – I love travelling. The thrill of going somewhere new. Visiting a new place for me is like discovering a closed door….open the door and all manner of delights await.
  3. I intend to spend more quality time with my daughter. Again this is just so easy!! I will be moving to new accommodation at the end of January, so we will be able to plan to get together 🙂
  4. To start saving for my daughter’s 2018 June wedding – I intend to work a few extra days each month to achieve this.
  5. To visit at least 2 islands I haven’t been to yet.
  6. To visit at least 4 new cities in England – I can ask the agency to send me to different locations and while I’m there I can explore the area.
  7. To visit my brother and his family in Budapest.
  8. To improve my photographs and learn more about what makes a great photo. I love taking photos…in fact I take way too many, but I enjoy keeping a record of where I was when and photographing everything I see 😉
  9. To explore healthier options in the food line. While I was working at my last job I discovered the joy of experimenting with recipes. This however could lead to a bit of a challenge…..if there’s more than 3 ingredients…I get bored. hahaha. Also many of my clients prefer plain simple English cooking….
  10. To read more books. To that end I’ve listed a few books on my Amazon wish list that I plan to buy.
  11.  To reduce my debt. This is still a very sore point with me. Thanks to the personal development journey in 2007/2008, and the said guru’s advice on OPM I am still struggling to pay off my debt. But I’ve reduced it from £50k in 2008 to just over £15k in 2017. eish. 10 years on. Anyway that issue still irks me so best to leave it alone. Suffice to say, I am slowly getting there…paying the credit cards off while still having a life.
  12. And the biggie for me this year…..to walk the Camino de Santiago. I had planned to walk the Portuguese route last year in September, but the UK Customs & Excise taxes on my SA shipment put paid to that. New Year = New Intention!!
  13. To see more sunrises or sunsets…depending on where I am in the world. “The Universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” Eden Phillpots
  14. To blog more often……hence this blog 😉
  15. To walk the Worcestershire Way.
  16. To book to watch the 2018 London fireworks….they are amazing.

    plans, goals, intentions and resolutions

    Happy New Year 2017 – London

Where and when to start? Needless to say the easiest plan to start with is the walking. It is my intention to walk the Camino this year. To do that I must at least have achieved a certain level of fitness to make the walk pleasant….I do not want blisters and sore feet!

So with that in mind, and despite it being a perfectly vile day; wet and cold and windy….typical New Year’s Day weather in the UK, I set off on the first of my intentions; to walk more.  Bundled up in my winter woollies and raincoat I set off along the coast and walked to just past Dumpton Gap and back – 1 hour; 5.1 kms; 7282 steps; yes!!!

goals, plans, intentions and resolutions

New Year’s Day – Camino practice walk

Happy New Year folks…..I’d love to hear what your Plans, Goals, Intentions and Resolutions might be….

 

 

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A few years ago I had the great good fortune of listening to Dr Demartini speak at an event.  At the time I had some personal issues that I wanted to sort out, issues that I felt were holding me back in many ways.  I was so impressed by what he had to say that I signed up for the ‘Breakthrough Experience’, a 3 day course that he runs.  It was one of the hardest weekends of my life but also one of the most life-changing weekends.  This was during a period of time where I had a brain-storm (not to be confused with brain-wave…which is usually the precursor to something sensible) and signed up to just about every Personal Development course that was being held in London at that time (2007-2008), 9 months of madness that cost me a ruddy fortune.  Subsequent to that period of lunacy, I was left with a serious amount of debt and over a period of time….a healthy respect of Personal Development avoidance.

However, subsequent to that and because this particular course did in fact produce a positive outcome, Dr Demartini’s course was/is the only one I would ever recommend.  I signed up to his newsletters and follow his page on facebook.  I enjoy reading the information he sends and usually get some real learning out of it.  I received this in the mail a few days ago and thought I would share it with you as it is really profound….I hope he doesn’t mind 🙂 ( and in case he reads this (as if) no Dr D I am not putting you on a pedestal….I just really appreciate what you teach! 🙂 )

So here goes:

” The three words ‘I LOVE YOU’ can be for some the most challenging words to say and yet also the most commonly appreciated words for people to hear.

Many people hold back on sharing their love and appreciation for others because of a fear of rejection.
I often ask my clients what they would do if they were told they only had 24 hours to live. In all, if not most cases, they say they would make sure they used their last hours to say ‘Thank you, I love you’ to all of the people they feel contributed towards their lives.

At the core of every human being, we all just want to be loved and appreciated for who we are. So letting someone know that you love them is one of the most precious gifts you can give.

Whether Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day or Children’s Day, when it comes to those you love, find a way to share your appreciation and the truth of your heart.

When asked the best way to overcome the fear of saying ‘I love you’, I suggest the following:

Write down 25 benefits to you of your sharing the words ‘I love you’ with the person you wish to share your heart with, and then also write down 25 drawbacks to you of not sharing the words ‘I love you’ with them.
Whenever we see more benefits than drawbacks in an outcome, we take action.
Write down all the things you fear may occur if you say ‘I love you’ and then take each item you listed and ask how it will benefit you if it occurs. Every situation has a balance of support and challenge and no matter what happens you will always experience both sides.
Write down 25 benefits to the person hearing you say you love them and 25 drawbacks for that person if you do not tell them. When you perceive more benefits to them of hearing the truth of your heart you will feel inspired to tell them you love them.
In our daily relationships we swing back and forth between like and dislike, attract and repel, yet are these not the two arms walking hand in hand as one in a balanced gait – truthfully called love.

True love is the synthesis and synchronicity of all complementary emotions – a balance between the attractive and repulsive emotional extremes. It is a pure energy that permeates our entire existence. When applied to a romantic or intimate relationship, true love emerges as you come to appreciate both the positive and negative, good and bad, happy and sad and ups and downs of a relationship. You realise that the purpose of a relationship is not only romance, joy, support and so-called happiness; it is also equally about learning, challenge, growth and personal evolution.

True love is our ultimate objective, whether we’re aware of it or not. We may think we’re looking for something else, something material and fleeting, but even the pursuit of transient goals just leads us back to the truth of love. The purpose of all relationships is to dissolve the barriers that keep us from recognising the love that already is and expressing the love we ultimately are.

Love and wisdom,
Dr John Demartini ”

As I said these are his words, and I have not added or subtracted anything from them, but I have sure gained a lot.  Hope you have enjoyed it as much.

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